Penny wise or pound foolish?
My husband and I work hard to get the most for our money. As I have blogged about before, we coupon, go for rebates and sales and do our best to make our money do the most we can. I've even spent time talking to customer service trying to get money back or a new item for things that break (learned many of these things from my mom, that simply asking customer service for assistance can sometimes lead to great results). We are also fortunate to have family that are generous to us (thanks grandmas for clothing our son in great fashion!)
So while we work hard to be frugal, it's easy to sometimes fall and make mistakes. To have a rough day and think a fancy coffee will make it better, or through a lack of planning make an expensive choice out of convenience or necessity.
As my husband and I did a budget evaluation and tried to reign things in, I realized some decisions we make, we would not be able to make if we didn't have some wiggle room in our budget. Our wiggle room mostly comes from being frugal and trying to make good choices. While I would love to be able to buy my family's food from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's every week, I find myself shopping at Aldi and that's ok. I would prefer to have that wiggle room for other things. I am grateful that our frugality helps give us the wiggle room to be "extravagant" in small ways.
Earlier this week, I took my son to the doctor and when they mentioned he needed bloodwork again this year, my face showed my total terror. Last year, we had an awful experience that involved my husband having to hold my son down, several pokes, and ultimately a technician telling us she didn't think she could draw his blood and we would have to go to another lab anyways. It was a horrible experience for everyone that even a cheeseburger and Kristy Kreme did not erase from our memory. Last year ,we had been told our insurance was not accepted by the children's hospital, so our insurance wouldn't cover the bloodwork, so we went to a regular lab. This year I asked, "how much is it if we pay for it out of pocket?" The tech looked sheepishly at me and said, "you want to do that?" I told her, "maybe, our insurance isn't very good so we will have to pay our deductible anyway." As we were taking, I observed how they expertly obtained blood on a 2 day old baby. I was convinced by their skill set. Though it cost us a couple hundred dollars and I thought, "that's a couple extra hours at work for me," it was worth every penny. I didn't have to restrain my child and it was just one well placed poke. He even referred to it later in the day as, "I was scared but then I was brave and I got poked". None of the trauma from last year, worth every cent.
On a very warm evening this week we got to go to our favorite taco place. There is a older homeless man who normally resides on a bench on our walk there. We try to pray for him every night and it is not hard as he shares his name with my son. We went to eat dinner and we were happy to get 3 free tacos because we do punch cards (we use loyalty cards quite often). As we were enjoying our tacos, I thought of the man we were sure to pass on our way back. I have given him warm winter socks and a McDonalds gift card previously and on this warm, blessed summer night, I told my husband I wanted to buy him a hot meal. I went ahead and got him a kids quesadilla, not knowing his taco preferences and thinking the kids meal was actually one of the more balanced meals on the menu, my husband and I agreed. I purchased it and when they asked me for a juice choice I automatically chose what my son likes- orange juice. As I walked back to the table my son got all excited. He thought the orange juice was for him, we explained to him that it was for a man with his same name, but not him, it was for the nice man on the bench. My son processed this, got a smile and then told us how he wanted to hide it behind his back, give it to the man and he would smile. He was excited by this thought and followed through. Even though it was an orange juice he wanted, he was happy to give it to the man. Later, when we got home, we gave him a special treat of orange juice (normally before bed he can only have water) and I think he was a little more grateful for that juice than what he would have been otherwise. I was happy to spend that extra money, that was in our "wiggle room" budget to know that my son was learning a "priceless" lesson.
We will keep nickel and diming where we can as a family, but I like to think it's not "pound foolish" to spend money on those you love- protecting them from pain and discomfort or teaching them there's more to the world than themselves. For the opportunity to do this, I'm grateful.